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Study: Sports betting, online gaming could shore up millions for P.R.

Puerto Rico has the opportunity to be a leader in the United States as it looks to enter the sports betting and online gaming market but needs to build upon their already strict regulatory structure that relies on suitable operators and a strong, experienced regulator that understands the existing legal market.

Such were the findings of a study by Global Market Advisors, a firm hired by the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association to “assess and understand the opportunity associated with a legalized sports betting and online gaming market” on the island. 

Saying “gaming opportunities abound in Puerto Rico,” GMA presents several scenarios under which sports betting and online gaming would serve as additional amenities to their host facilities.

“However, it should be noted that neither options would position Puerto Rico as a world-class gaming destination comparable to Las Vegas or Macau,” the firm stated.

The report discusses the ideal tax environment, regulatory structure and social safeguards for both sports betting and online gaming. 

For one, it notes that the proposed new gaming sector should not be burdened with a tax rate higher than 15%, to attract new operators. In its projections, GMA predicted that sports betting in Puerto Rico could generate $5.4 million through in-person bets only, and $7.4 million in 2022 through a combination of in-person and mobile applications.

Meanwhile, online gaming could reach $27.6 million in 2022, based on the notion that casino operators could offer a full array of online casino-style gambling.

The firm notes that it will be key for the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. to regulate and partner with licensed operators to restrict the illegal market.

“With the establishment of a legalized sports betting and/or online gaming market, Puerto Rico must provide gaming platforms that operate under a strict regulatory regime, monitor problem gambling, capture incremental tax revenue, understand the impact on the existing market, and allow their legal casino operations to more effectively compete with the illegal market with an improved amenity offering,” GMA stated.

“As Puerto Rico looks to roll-out legal sports betting, stakeholders should consider mobile sports wagering opportunities that will allow operators to compete with the existing illegal market by offering a product that is highly accessible and convenient to the consumer as well as allowing for strict know your customer standards,” the firm noted in the study.  

The opportunity is set for Puerto Rico to rely on its existing regulatory structure with suitable operators that will seek partnerships with well-known, quality sports betting operators to create a dynamic market that can serve as a model for other states in the U.S. to follow, the firm concluded.

Author Details
Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

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